A committee of Burlington Council met behind closed doors yesterday to discuss the future of La Salle park and provided some direction to staff which remains confidential; but what we do know is that the park is considered an important park of the Burlington Park system and staff are recommending a solution that sees the park continue in its current role. . A Burlington spokesperson told the Bay Observer. “there are currently no negotiations underway between the two cities, but we are open to having discussions with Hamilton,” adding, “Burlington Council are committed to keeping the lands as a public park in perpetuity.”
The Park belongs to Hamilton dating from the days when Aldershot was part of Hamilton and the park is leased to Burlington for a dollar a year. This discussion got started in June when Hamilton Coun. Sam Merulla suggested pressing Burlington to negotiate a new lease agreement based on “highest and best use” which might mean some form of development of at least a portion of the land.
In an extended report, Thursday, Burlington staff pointed out that Burlington has made major investments in the park over the 40 years it has operated the park and that the value of the park and the adjacent marina is just under $30 Million. The largest individual investment came when the city replaced the iconic park pavilion after it was destroyed by fire. The entire building was reconstructed in 1997 to its original heritage design. The pavilion is a designated heritage building and is currently used for social events and meetings by people across the region.
Staff itemized the value of assets in the park as follows:
In addition, significant investments were made to the Marina:
Beyond the $28 Million in capital additions the city spends about $146,000 year in maintenance and repairs and roughly $250,000 per year to operate the facility.
The staff report deviated from the usual neutral tone of staff reports in making it clear that the Park is a vital tourist attraction for Burlington. “If there is any doubt of the value of the park, one needs to look no further than Google Reviews where 1,027 individuals from all walks of life and from different places comment on their pleasant experiences with an overall rating of 4.6 out of 5. The continuation of LaSalle Park in its current form is of vital importance to the City of Burlington and its residents and visitors who come from all over.”